Friday, May 19, 2006

Weekly Word for May 19 - 31, 2006

Weekly Word - May 19, 2006

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; . . .
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Thy praise.
(Psalm 51: 1 & 15)

“Oh Lord, thank you for the gift of yesterday - and for being with us throughout the night - now we give you this day. Be in charge of today . . .” those were the words Ted started our morning prayer with. As he prayed, I listened to the words - feeling his arms holding me. His voice was soothing, surrounding me with not only his love - but the love God had for both of us. As Ted prayed for the day ahead, I had my own plans mapped out in my mind. When he was done praying, we ate our breakfast and headed out the door. He was dropping me off at the garage to pick up our new van - and then he was heading to another part of the state - heading off to work. As Ted drove away, I asked God to take care of him, to be with him the whole day - and bring him home safely to me at the end of the day. Then I turned to go into the waiting room - already planning for the rest of the day in my head. And then - - - I was reminded that things don’t always happen - the way “I” plan them . . .

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it - but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3: 8)

The new van needed only a few minor repairs, and the girl had told me it would be ready in a little bit. So as I waited, I read the newspaper and watched the television that was on in the “waiting room”. People seemed to be coming and going, and still I was sitting there waiting. I was starting to get a little worried - and that’s when the girl called me into the office. “We’re sorry . . . But the technician has dropped one of the bolts into the engine. It is going to take a little longer than we expected.” As she finished speaking, a man came forward to help me arrange for a “rental car”. Confused, I didn’t know what to do or think. But with the man’s help, I soon had all the paperwork done - and then he handed me the keys. As I got into the car, I adjusted the seat and mirrors, making sure that I was all set to go. Finally, I was ready to go home! This wasn’t quite how I had expected my day to go. Half the day was already over, and I still hadn’t done any work at home! “Oh Lord” I prayed, “please be in charge” I asked Him - as I fumbled to find the windshield wipers on the car. As I drove home, I realized how often I find myself asking God to be in charge of what is happening in my life. And then I thought back - to a time when things were very different - to a time when I didn’t trust anyone - - - not even the Lord . . .

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly
from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalm 51: 1 & 2)

He had me pinned against the file cabinet. As he kissed me, he pushed his whole body against me. I tried to push him away, but he was so much bigger than I was. After he kissed me, he stepped back - and I quickly turned away from him. But not before I saw the look in his eyes. His eyes seemed to say that I had asked for it - that it was my fault that he kissed me. I searched inside of myself, wondering if it was true. Hiding my feelings, I turned back toward him - telling him he had better not try that again! I said it with as much force as I could, all the while shaking inside. As he left my office, I went and sat down at my desk. What was wrong with me? Why did these things seem to happen to me? As I turned back toward my work, I decided not to tell anyone what had happened. After all, I was married with two children - and I really needed this job.

According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out transgressions.

My husband had asked me to get a “real” job. One that actually paid money. I had worked for a ministry, and volunteered at a crisis center - but I didn’t actually make much money. So when a friend from church told me about a job at their farm, I took it. I was to manage the business aspect of the farm. I took care of the billing, and the taxes - as well as payroll and advertising. It was my job to work up budgets and find ways to make sure all the bills were paid. I also oversaw the functions that were scheduled on the farm. It was such a beautiful place - the farm itself. I loved walking around it. But I found out quickly - that there were things that I really hated about that job . . .

My job was to make sure that everything on the farm ran smoothly. And that didn’t happen very often. My boss seemed to drink too much, and I didn’t trust him at all. I fought with some of the employees, as I tried to make sure that they did their jobs. On the day of an “outing” - it was my job to oversee everything! The caterers and waiters, the workers on the farm, and the people who came to enjoy themselves - - - all were my responsibility. It was my job to make sure everyone was paid, and all went smoothly. But it never did! And so by the end of the day - it was easy to say “yes” to a drink - trying to ease the tensions. On this day, after fighting with some of the workers, I found myself in my office with one of the other bosses. He had come in to talk about the day - but soon we were laughing and teasing each other. And then he told me how pretty he thought I was. It felt good to laugh - it felt good to be told by someone that I was pretty. But I really should have known better! I should have never trusted him! So when he tried to kiss me - I had no one else to blame - but myself . . .

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned.
And done what is evil in Thy sight, . . .
(Psalm 51: 3 & 4)

Over the next few years, I continued to work at the farm. I started to lose weight, and I was always stressed. My marriage wasn’t getting any better - and frequently I would hear about my faults as a wife. Every jab, every nasty comment - went in like a knife wound. Each day, I wondered how I could fix things. But nothing seemed to work. I kept most men (and actually almost everyone) at a distance - not wanting to get hurt again. And then I met Brian (not his real name). He was a contractor that I called when we needed help at the farm. He was always quiet, and seemed to listen to me when I talked. I didn’t see him very often, but when I did - he was always friendly. I started to think of him as a friend, someone who understood some of the things I was dealing with. What I didn’t realize, was what he was really seeing - when he looked at me. He saw how unhappy I was. He saw my hurts and pain, and for some reason - he believed he could rescue me.

Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man.
For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, . . .

(Psalm 71: 4 & 5)

I had set up a meeting with him, wanting to go over what we would need during the next few months. As we sat at the table, I went over the schedule and payments. We sat there for quite a while, easily talking about work and our families. And then things changed. I saw it in his eyes, and in the way he reached for my hand. At that moment, I jumped up from the table - putting some distance between us. As I gathered my things together, getting ready to leave - I wasn’t sure of what to say to him. His eyes were full of hurt and confusion - and I felt awful as I drove home that night. We hadn’t done anything wrong - but I felt like I had done everything wrong . . .

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me . . .

Our relationship changed, after that day. We were careful with each other, and a huge chasm stayed between us. It wasn’t until years later - that I found out how much he really knew about me. He had seen how hurt I was by my husband as well as those I worked with. He knew my heart was in pieces. But what he didn’t know - was that I was too wounded to trust even him . . .

My soul, wait in silence for God only; For my hope is from Him.
He is my rock and my salvation, . . .

(Psalm 62: 5 & 6)

It was around this time, that my boss’s wife realized that I wasn’t doing very well. She had gone to church with me, and also to bible study. And so one day she stopped me as I headed up to work. “You need some time for yourself” she told me. “You need to get away” she continued. She offered to give me a day off each month - with pay. It was a day just for me. She told me not to tell anyone - not even my husband - and so I didn’t.

On that very first “me” day - I went to see Norma. We met at our favorite restaurant for breakfast. As we sat there over coffee, Norma and I started to talk. We talked about our kids and our husbands. We talked about her work at the crisis center. And then we talked about “me”. Slowly, I started to tell her about the things that had happened. Little by little, I started to tell her the truth. I told her things that I hadn’t told anyone else. And then I told her how much I hated my life - how much I hated “me”!

If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there - Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
(Psalm 139: 8 - 10)

Norma listened - and she didn’t judge me. She let me talk about anything that day. As we left the restaurant, she asked me to go with her to her house. When we got there, she asked if she could pray with me. I have to admit, at that moment - I was afraid. I knew that I had made some bad choices, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted God to know about them . . .

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me, . . .
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
(Psalm 139: 1 & 2)

That day was the beginning. Norma helped me to find a Christian counselor, someone who could help me. Each time I went to the counselor, she would ask me if it was alright to pray first. “Can we ask God to lead us and guide us?” she would ask me. I knew I could say “no” - but I always said “yes”. I wanted to get better. I wanted to get stronger and healthier. I wanted to stop hating myself. I wanted to finally - be happy . . .

But it didn’t happen over night - or even in the very first year. I had a lifetime of hurts and abuse, and all of them had left their wounds inside my soul. To this day, I remember the day I realized that God had known about “me” all along. He knew that I had been sexually abused as a little girl. He knew about “everything”. As I realized that fact - an anger started deep inside of me. “Why didn’t He stop it?” Why did I have to go through so much pain and abuse?” “Why did He let it happen?”

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.
Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
(Psalm 139: 4 & 5)

I am so glad that God lets us be angry, even at Him. During that time, Norma let me rant and rave about my anger. She listened to me when I cried about how much it all hurt. And then when I was done crying, she asked me if I wanted to pray.

Norma prayed with me a lot during that awful time. She helped me to see that God hadn’t meant for me to get hurt. That “others” had made some terrible choices. And then she helped me to see myself a little better. With Norma’s help, I learned to trust the Lord with everything - my hurts, my fears, my entire life. And then I had to trust Him, when He took her away from me - - - and took her “Home” with Him . . .

“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself;
That where I am, there you may be also.”
(John 14: 1 & 3)

“Oh Lord, please be in charge of this day . . .” that has been my prayer each day, since all those years ago. Each time I have prayed those words - He has been there. He was there - holding my hand - when I had to say good-bye to my friend. And He has been with me, helping my heart to heal - - - helping me to trust and to love again - as He brought Ted into my life . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

“Oh Lord, please be in charge of this day . . .” that has been our prayer each and every day. It is my hope that it will become your prayer as well. Through the difficult times, when you face heartbreak and pain, He will be there. He promises to be with you always - helping you to Live life - until it is time to walk with Him - into forever. He is just waiting - for you to ask: Lord, please be in charge . . .

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you and keep you in the days ahead!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Ted and I will be away for the next few weeks. We are traveling to visit Ted’s family - and we ask for your prayers during this time. We also ask for prayers for Ted’s dad, who will be having surgery in the next two weeks. Thank you all so much.

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekly Word for May 12 - 19, 2006

I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; . . .
On the day I called Thou didst answer me;
Thou didst make me bold with strength in my soul.

(Psalm 138: 1 & 3)

"If today you were given the chance to go back to a certain age in your life and start over from there, what age would you choose?" This was the question that was written on a web board that I visit. As I thought about the question, so many thoughts ran through my mind. I knew that I had made many mistakes in my life, and that I had hurt others. But I also knew, that each moment in time that I had lived - had led to this moment - to the person I am now.

After thinking about the question, I wrote down my answer - and then shut down the computer. Later that day, I showed the question to Ted. I also showed him my answer - and the answers of others. Some had disagreed with me, knowing that they regretted some of their choices over the years. Some answered simply - about failed marriages and missed opportunities. And then one person wrote: “I would have never been born.” . . .

When I read that answer - I could feel the heartache inside of my whole being. What had made this person feel this way? As I thought about it, I couldn’t help but think back over my own life. It hasn’t always been easy. And for sure, I have many regrets. But would I go back? Would I change - - - anything . . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And thy right hand will save me.
(Psalm 138: 7)

I had to be about 8 or 9 years old, that day so long ago. It was in a time and a place where parents let their children walk alone on the streets. It was a time when people weren’t quite so afraid. My friend needed to go “uptown” to get her mom some cigarettes. So she asked if I could go with her. I ran inside of the house, and told my parents that I was going to go with my friend. I don’t remember what they said, or if there were any questions asked, I just remember going with her.

We headed up to Main Street, where all the activity went on in a little town like ours. There was a drug store, and a library, and even a couple of churches. But we were headed for the “News Room”. That’s what it was called, the central store - right on the corner of Main Street. The store was owned by a friend of ours, and I was always in awe of her and her parents. She could go right up to the candy counter, whenever she wanted to, and take what she liked. For an 8 year old, that seemed like pure heaven!

As we walked, my friend showed me the money her mom had given her. There was enough for the cigarettes, and then there was a little more for my friend to get a treat. All the way there, we talked about what she might buy. She thought about candy, but then decided she wanted an ice cream. She didn’t ask me if I wanted anything. After all, I never had any money. That was just how things were. When we got to the store, my friend bought the cigarettes, and then she went over to the ice cream cooler. There, she pulled out one of my very favorite ice creams. As she went to pay the man, I stood there staring at the cooler. I wanted an ice cream, and it didn’t matter that I had no money. I still wanted it! So while my friend was up at the front of the store, I carefully reached inside of the cooler - taking what I wanted. Then, I slipped out of the door . . .
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord . . .
Depart from evil, and do good;
Seek peace, and pursue it.
(Psalm 34: 11 & 14)

Regrets - - - I felt terrible, the minute I left the store. I couldn’t eat the ice cream! And so I threw it away - lying to my friend about how I had gotten it. The guilt I felt afterwards, remained with me for quite a while. And then, as I grew older - there were other times of feeling guilty - times full of regrets . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
(Psalm 34: 17)

As I stood there in her room, I saw dolls and toys everywhere. She had a dollhouse sitting in the corner, and I could see all the little furniture and animals in the different rooms. Standing there, I couldn’t help but feel the pain of my own childhood - wishing for some of what was here in this room. I had bought each and every doll and toy for her - hoping to give my little daughter all the things that I never had.

But I had another wish for my daughter as well. I wished that she had a better “mommy” - someone who was healthier and stronger. Someone - who didn’t hurt as much as I did . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 18)

I was a mess, and friends knew it! With gentle guidance, Norma suggested that I go to see a counselor that she knew. “Deb, you need help!” she said. And reluctantly, I agreed. I soon learned though, that counseling doesn’t immediately make everything all better. I had lived through a lot of abuse and neglect growing up, and then my marriage wasn’t in the best of conditions. So it was a pretty messy “mommy” that my children came home to each day. I was seeing the counselor at least twice a week, and the emotions that were stirred up, were sometimes those of a very young child. I cried a lot, and was angry quite a bit - all emotions that needed to finally come out of me. I had lived a life of brokenness, and finally I was asking God to fix me. But my children didn’t know what to think - as their mom wasn‘t doing a very good job of taking care of them.

For over two years, my husband and children put up with a wife and mother who acted more like a child at times. As I look back, I realize that I truly was getting healthier and stronger. But in the middle of it - - - it felt awful!

One day, when my children were about 12 and 8, my husband decided that we would go on a family outing. So we went to an amusement park. I was very tired and really didn’t feel very good that day. So I sat watching the kids and my husband going on the rides most of the day. As I watched them come off one of the rides, I saw that Jenny was crying. Her dad was yelling at her, which made her cry even harder. As I continued to watch - she looked over at me - pleading for help. She had somehow gotten hurt, and wanted someone to comfort her. But her father didn’t have the patience to deal with her. “I want my mommy!” she cried. And then my heart broke, as he turned her away from me - telling her that I was too sick to help her . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, . . .

My heart broke that day, wishing that I was someone else. At that moment, I wished that I was stronger - that I had never gone into counseling - that I had never been abused or molested. I wished that “I” wasn’t her mother . . .

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Regrets? - - - I have had many.

Mike and his dad have always had an “up and down” relationship. Being a typical teen-ager, Mike did a few things - just to “get” his father! He was about 16 or so, when he decided to go get a haircut. Mike came running into the house, wanting to show us his new hair cut. Most of his hair was shaved off. But right down the middle, he had a “Mohawk” that was pulled back into a pony tail. As he stopped in the middle of the dining room, I burst out laughing. I quickly turned around, trying to hide how funny I thought he looked. But as I did, I caught his eyes, and saw the glimmer of laughter there as well. Then we both waited, wondering what his father would say. We didn’t wait very long though, as a roar soon filled the house. He started yelling and screaming, and no amount of telling him that it was “only hair” - and that it would grow back - helped. The laughter was gone in an instant, and anger filled the room. Afterwards, I could only shake my head - wondering at this man - and his anger . . .

Everything was always a battle between the two of them. His father didn’t seem to notice the good things that I saw in Mike. He was always yelling at him, always criticizing him. And then one day, Mike couldn’t take it any more. He was so upset! That was the day that I heard him say: “I wish I was dead!” My heart just about stopped, and terror filled my being - as I thought about what he was saying. I loved him so much - and I wanted to make things better! But my son had been hurt again . . .

That evening, I found a counselor for Mike, and our whole family. I told my husband that he had to go - that his son needed help. And he grudgingly agreed. For a while, things between the kids and their dad did get better. But our marriage continued to get worse, and a few years later - I finally left.

Mike was 19 when I left his dad. It broke my heart, that day when I left him behind. I told him that I loved him, and I wondered if he would ever understand. I was leaving his father, but for Mike, it still must have felt like I was leaving him. As I settled into living in a small house with his sister, Mike continued to live in the same house with his dad. And then one day he called me. “Mom, I can’t take it any more . . .” he said. “I will be right there” I told him. And I raced over to the house . . . .

Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
(Psalm 34: 19)

When I drove up the driveway that day, I could see the fury on his father’s face. I don’t remember what they had fought about, all I remember is their faces. His dad’s was full of anger - and Mike looked so defeated. As I drove away with Mike in the car, I had no clue how to make things better.

That day, I listened to my son tell me all about the hurt he felt from his father. “I can’t do anything right” he said. And I understood exactly how he felt. I made him some supper, and told him he could stay. But after talking with his dad, he decided to go back home. As I drove him back to his father‘s house, I fought back the tears. I wished that I was stronger. For that one moment, I wished that I hadn’t left his father. I wished that somehow, I could help my son . . .

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out - transgressions.

(Psalm 51: 1)

Regrets . . . Over my lifetime, I have had many! When I read the question that was posted on the web board, I thought about all the things that I have lived through. I thought about all the mistakes I had made - - - and the wishes I had - for my children . . .

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
(Psalm 51: 2 & 3)

Regrets . . . We all have them. Through the years, I have learned to give everything to the Lord - for healing. I can’t fix my children’s hurts. But I can pray for them, asking God to heal them - and fill their lives with good things. And then - - - I have to let go . . .

Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part - Thou wilt make me know wisdom.
Purify me . . ., and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalm 51: 6 - 8)

When I look at my two children, I know that they are “who” they are - because of all that has happened in their lifetimes. Each is uniquely made, through the mistakes I and their father made. Mike now works in engineering, and is a husband and a father. He has a heart that is full of compassion and love. Jenny works in a home for children who have been through abuse or neglect. She has an amazing gift for helping these little ones to find hope and healing. Both my children - are such amazing young adults! How can I regret “who” my children have become?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.

(Psalm 51: 10 & 12)

Regrets - moments that we wish had been different - times when we wish we could change what happened in our lives. Each day, we have a choice to make. We can choose to live that day - to the fullest it can be. Or, we can choose to “live” in our regrets - holding on to them - and dieing each day because of them.

When I read that one person’s answer: “I would have never been born.” - my heart hurt. It isn’t easy - looking at the times in our lives that hurt - that are full of regrets and shame. But God gives each of us a promise. He promises to take those moments - and heal our broken hearts.

“For I am with you,” declares the Lord, “to save you;”
“For I will restore you to health - and I will heal you of your wounds,” declares the Lord,
(Jeremiah 30: 11 & 17)

"If today you were given the chance to go back to a certain age in your life and start over from there, what would you choose?" As I think about this question, my answer has to remain the same. I wouldn’t go back and change anything. I love “who” I am now. I love my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. If I had never married my first husband, I would not have those two children. If I had never been abused, I wouldn’t have searched so hard for help - and then worked to become a minister and counselor - to help others. And if Ted and I hadn’t been through the bad marriages - we might not have found each other. I am so glad to have him in my life today. What do I choose? I try to choose to “live” each day, loving my family and the Lord - and then I try to give everything else - - - to Him . . .

What will you choose?

“I have set before you today life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life - in order that you may live, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

God bless you, and keep you, in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, May 05, 2006

Weekly Word for May 5 - 12, 2006

Weekly Word - May 5, 2006

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4: 7)

The tunnel was in front of me, dark - and waiting for me to enter it. I knew that I had no choice, that this was the way I needed to go. But I also wondered how I was going to get through it. It was so dark, and it got smaller and smaller as you went into it. It felt as if it would squeeze the life out of me, and I really wondered if I was ever going to get to the end of it. Just as I was finally able to see a small sliver of light - - - the alarm went off - and I woke up. As I did, I wondered about the dream. I knew that times were tough, in so many ways. “Lord, what do I do?” I wondered silently. And then I looked over at my sleeping husband . . .

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; . . .
(1 John 3: 11)

My car was on it’s last legs, and I really wasn’t sure what to do. I had taken it for estimates, tried to find parts to have Ted and Mike fix it, done all I could think of to keep it running. But it wasn’t looking good. The car was old, and so a lot of things were rusted and didn’t work right. When it rained outside - it rained on me inside as well! There was duck tape on the steering wheel, and my broken antennae was now inside of the trunk. The car was in bad shape - and I really didn’t know what to do. It had been my very first car - that was just mine. And now . . . I was going to have to say good-bye to it. But I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do that.

Then, a friend called me last week. I had shared some of my troubles with her, telling her about my little car, and my worries. So on this day, when she called, I could hear the excitement in her voice. “We found you a vehicle - it is really nice” she said. “It is perfect for you” she continued on. As I listened to her words, I didn’t know what to say to her. I wasn’t even sure “what” I felt at that moment. I hesitated, and then I told her I would talk to Ted. I’m sure she could hear the uncertainty in my voice, but she just accepted what I said, and told me she would call me later on. “Lord, what do I do?” I wondered out loud. I wasn’t very good at accepting help from others, and I knew that Ted had an even harder time with it . . .

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, . . .
(Proverbs 3: 5 & 6)

He was the little boy who had no momma, always trying to help his grandma with the little ones. He helped her with the dishes, and picking up around the house. And he was the one who helped her each Christmas - choosing what toys to give to his siblings. And then, he was the young man - trying his best to please everyone. He had a new step-mother, and she never seemed happy with anything he did. He knew he wasn’t doing anything wrong by going to youth groups at church, and seeing his friends. But it didn’t matter what he said, or how hard he tried - he was soon kicked out of his house. He moved in with his grandparents, and got a job after school - still working hard to do what was right.

At 17, this young man headed off to college. It was here that he fell in love with a pretty blonde girl. She seemed everything that he wanted, and so he gave his heart to her. And then - - - she gave it back to him. She told him that her life had too many troubles in it, and so she got rid of the one thing - she thought she could do without.

Ted learned early on - to trust in himself - and no one else. His mother had left him, and being the oldest, he took on the job of taking care of everyone else. Even when he finally married that pretty blonde girl, his trust was still in himself. She had hurt him before, and so a part of his heart - was kept far, far away from ever being hurt again. And then - - - I came into his life.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.
(Proverbs 3: 7 & 8)

She was the little girl, who hid in her room - hiding a secret that was too big to tell anyone else. There was no one to turn to, no one to trust, and so she hid - waiting for the day she could escape. Then she became the young teen-ager - taking care of her brothers and the house. She could never quite do things good enough - or make her brothers mind enough - to make her mother happy. And so even though she tried her best - nothing she did was right!

She got married, and had babies - and did her best to survive. She loved her husband and she loved her children - but still she was being hurt. She had married a man who she believed loved her. And she hoped he would protect her and keep her safe. But instead, she found someone who was hurting her - and abusing her - - - and again, she hoped to escape.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
(Psalm 34: 17)

Both Ted and I went through very difficult times in our lives. Through the years, we had both learned not to trust others. We did our best to take care of everything - all by ourselves. And then - - - our lives fell apart . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 18)

Ted’s wife had left him, and he didn’t know what to do. And that’s when he turned to the Lord for help. He came to the ministry for counseling, and soon he was a part of our bible study. It was here, that our friendship began. As the weeks went by, our friendship grew. It was only a few months later, when he became an even bigger part of the ministry. It seemed that God was asking him to work on the property - rebuilding an apartment for me to move in to.

He worked so hard, gutting the place and rebuilding the walls and floors - making the place a brand new apartment. Every day he would go to the apartment - after putting in a full day at his work. He was literally putting all of his being - into this job. And then one day - I found him sitting in the middle of the floor. He looked so tired and worn - and the discouragement was all over him. I sat down next to him, and asked him what was wrong. He told me how tired he was - and how upset the leader of the ministry had made him. And then he looked at me. “Why am I doing this?” “for who?” he asked me. All of his strength was gone - and I could see that he had nothing left to give . . .

As I sat there on the floor with him, I wondered what to say. Looking around me, the walls were only half finished, and the bathroom had nothing inside of it. And then I looked back at him. At that moment, nothing else seemed to matter - not where I was going to live, or what the ministry might need - all that mattered was this amazing man’s heartache and pain. As I looked at him - I told him that he could walk away from the job - and I would still care about him. As I said it, I could feel the Lord’s presence all around us. I moved closer to him and carefully took him in my arms - and then the words just started to come: “Don’t do the job for me, or for the head of the ministry - or anyone else for that matter.” “Do the work for the Lord - and just for Him” “When you do, He will give you the strength to go on . . .” When I finished speaking, I just held him - and let the tears come. We both cried that day - realizing that each of our lives were in the hands of the Lord . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, . . .

It seems like forever ago - since that day up in the apartment. Ted did finish the apartment, making a beautiful home for the two of us. He didn’t know it at the time, but as he worked - giving it all to the Lord - - - the Lord gave it all back to him!

O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise.
(Psalm 51: 15)

It is never easy to let go, especially during the times when we know our lives are out of control - and we want to fix it.

About 9 years ago, I finally thought I had my own life just the way it was supposed to be. I had left my husband - and started out on a brand new life. I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others - and so I set out to make that happen. I thought I was going to work full time in Christian counseling. And then a friend asked me to watch her new little baby girl. As she did, I knew I didn’t want to do it. As I held that little girl in my arms, I looked up at her momma and told her that I didn’t think that’s what I should be doing. As I said it, she looked at me and shook her head. “Every time I pray and ask the Lord who should watch her - I see your face” she told me. As she said this, I could feel God’s presence filling the room. I knew He was there - but I still told her “no”.

It always seems to happen that way. I seem to say “no” when I want something different than what God is offering me. And the funny part about that is - He lets me do that! He lets me say “no”. And then He asks me again . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity . . .”
(Jeremiah 29: 11a)

I finally said “yes” to my friend, and I started watching her little one. I wanted to be angry about it, but somehow - I fell in love with Kerri Joy. That was her name. And to me - she was a “joy”. She fussed and she cried - and gave me a terrible time when I put her down for a nap. But it didn’t matter, I loved her with all my heart. Our household was now Jenny, me, and Kerri Joy. When I look back at the pictures of that period of time in my life, there she is - part of our family and our life. And then - - - I got very sick . . . .

I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I was always tired and my chest hurt to move or breath. I went back and forth to the doctors, having tests and getting new medicines. They really weren’t sure what was wrong with me, but they knew I was terribly sick. Each day, it took all I could do to get up and get dressed - and take care of the baby. And that is all I did - for months.

It was during this time, that I learned what it meant to need help from others. I needed help with the simple things - like grocery shopping and cleaning the house. I needed help going back and forth to the doctors. I slept a lot, and I tried to do my best. But I couldn’t have made it without the help of my friends. It was during this time, that I learned to let go - and take the hand of another . . .

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29: 12 & 13)

It hasn’t been easy, throughout our lives, to let go of control and ask for help from others. But for Ted and I, we’ve learned that God’s gifts - sometimes come from the hands of friends.

That dark tunnel, is really how things have felt lately. We had been praying and asking the Lord what to do about our troubles. And then - - - my friend called the other day. She called again - and again - never giving up. “You need this,” she told me. And finally, I knew she was right. She was willing to be the hands of God - - - when we had asked for His help . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

Through the tough times - when things seem their darkest - those are the times when we need the help of others. It is my hope and prayer that you will give God your troubles - and hold out your hand - to His gifts of Love . . .

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16: 33)

God bless you and keep you in the coming week ahead!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers